Operation Mongoose, officially known as the Cuba Project, was a covert operation launched by the United States government in 1961 with the primary objective of overthrowing Fidel Castro’s communist regime in Cuba. Initiated under President John F. Kennedy and spearheaded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it represented a heightened phase of the U.S.’s Cold War strategy against communism in the Western Hemisphere. The operation was a response to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the increasing Soviet influence in Cuba, which was perceived as a significant threat to U.S. national security, especially after the discovery of Soviet ballistic missiles on the island, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Operation Mongoose involved a range of clandestine activities aimed at destabilizing the Cuban government. These activities included sabotage, propaganda, psychological warfare, and the exploration of various assassination plots against Castro and other key figures. The CIA collaborated with Cuban exiles and anti-Castro groups, providing them with training, financial support, and weaponry. Covert operations included attempts to destroy sugar mills, power plants, and crop fields to cripple Cuba’s economy and incite anti-Castro sentiment among the Cuban population. Psychological operations involved spreading anti-communist propaganda to undermine the government’s credibility and sway public opinion.
Despite its ambitious goals, Operation Mongoose largely failed to achieve its objective of overthrowing Castro. Many of the plots, including those to assassinate Castro, were either foiled or never actualized. The operation’s activities were scaled back following the Cuban Missile Crisis, as part of the agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to de-escalate the situation. Operation Mongoose remains a controversial chapter in U.S. foreign policy history, exemplifying the extremes of Cold War-era interventionism and the complexities of U.S.-Cuban relations. Its legacy is a testament to the tensions of the era and the lengths to which the U.S. government was willing to go in its struggle against communism.
Department of State Documents
Originally, when I filed a FOIA request to the Department of State, it was told to me that the documents would probably be under the possession of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA). Although I had filed already at those agencies, I was surprised to receive a document a couple months later.
Department of State Release, March 2015 [ 7 Pages, 0.6MB ]